An economic stronghold for Vietnam, tourism in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province is booming. Once a holiday spot for French colonizers, Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province is now one of South Vietnam’s top destinations.
The province is widely recognized for its fantastic beaches and remote islands. With attractions like the Con Dao Islands and Vung Tàu City, visitors will want to spend at least a week exploring the province. However, many find themselves never wanting to leave.
Coastal Province in Southern Vietnam near HCMC
Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province is located in the Southeast Region of Vietnam and it is situated along the coast with a significant portion of the border meeting with the East China Sea. One of only a few provinces in Vietnam to have this setup, the majority of Bà Ría-Vung Tàu’s territory is over the water.
The stretching of provincial borders over water gives Vietnam jurisdiction over the numerous islands in the Con Dao Archipelago. Altogether, the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province is divided into 8 subdivisions. Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the closest major city, 92 km (57 mi) away, to Bà Ría-Vung Tàu.
Driving from Saigon to the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province takes only 2 hours. For an even faster way of traveling, flights from HCMC to Bà Ría-Vung Tàu can also be arranged. The most affordable way to get to Bà Ría-Vung Tàu is by public bus.
The long coastline of the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province has always been a key source for economic gains. Since the days of French colonization and even in ancient times, towns and cities along the coast have been important ports for trading. Historians estimate that the land around the province began to be developed more than 300 years ago.
Originally, Cambodian culture heavily influenced the people until 1698 when the Vietnamese Nguyen Dynasty took control over the land. The Nguyen Dynasty was Vietnam’s last ruling dynasty, which ended under French colonization. Though the dynasty lasted throughout World War II, the French’s control over the Nguyen family ultimately led to the last emperor abdicating the throne.
For Bà Ría-Vung Tàu, the influence of the French greatly affected the province. Specifically, the province’s largest city, Vung Tàu, was once a French colonial town. Important industries in the town included oil and gas. Many Frenchman also used the province as a resort destination because of the many beaches and islands.
After the French, foreign forces like the Japanese and Americans took interest in the area. On the mainland, the Japanese occupied Vung Tàu and the Americans utilized the Con Dao Islands. Remnants of the war, including the infamous Con Dao Prison are now historical attractions in the province.
After the war, Vietnam once again took control of the area. Bà Ría-Vung Tàu used to be a part of the Dông Nai Province. In 1992, Bà Ría-Vung Tàu became its own province after separating from Dông Nai and being combined with the Con Dao Archipelago.
- Data from 2019 estimates that 1,148,313 people live in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province.
- Under the rule of South Vietnam (1954-1975), the province was called Phuóc Tuy.
- The province’s official nickname is “A Place to Dock Boats”.
Sharing part of the provincial name, Bà Ria is the capital of the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province. The city is divided into 7 wards and 3 rural communes. For the province, the city is the administrative headquarters and most of the governmental agencies are stationed in the city. Additionally, it’s only 20 km (12.4 mi) to the northwest of Vung Tàu.
As a tourist destination, Bà Ria is much less popular than the neighboring Vung Tàu. Most tourists overlook Bà Ria because of its proximity to Vung Tàu, but this is a mistake that tourists shouldn’t make. Away from the administrative divisions, Bà Ria has its own set of stunning beaches. Popular resorts in Bà Ria include Long Hài and the hot springs at Bình Châu.
Though much of Bà Ria City is reserved for governmental agencies, there is still a decent selection of hotels, both beachfront and inland. Travelers can choose between luxury, boutique, and affordable hotels to ensure that they have a great stay in Bà Ria. The capital’s best hotels are the Hoang Minh Hotel, Bao Ngoc Hotel, Malibu Hotel, Thành Bình Hotel, and the Gio Bien Resort.
Most of the bigger hotels in the city will have their own restaurants on-site, but some travelers may also be interested in exploring restaurants around town. The majority of the restaurants in Bà Ria serve local favorites with fresh ingredients. Seafood is particularly popular because of the sea being so close. Song Roch Hao, Quan 108, and Banh Khot are all popular restaurants in Bà Ria.
Famous Places in Ba Ria-Vung Tau
Vung Tàu, the province’s largest city, and Con Dao, an archipelago of islands, including Con Son, are the two most famous places in Bà Ría-Vung Tàu. Though those two destinations receive the majority of tourists, there are other places in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province that are worth visiting too.
With fewer crowds, some of these districts and towns are even better than the overly popular Vung Tàu. Places in Bà Ría-Vung Tàu that tourists should add to their itinerary are Châu Dúc, Hô Côc, Long Hài, and Xuyên Môc.
Chau Duc District
A rural district, Châu Dúc is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The remote landscape is beautiful and home to multiple waterfalls. Bàu Sen and Xuân So’n are two stunning cascades that visitors can hike to see. The smaller communities in Châu Dúc are also excellent places to arrange for a Homestay.
An up-and-coming destination, Hô Côc is less crowded than Vung Tàu but still home to spectacular beach views. With over 5 km (3 mi) of sand, tourists in Hô Côc can enjoy spending their days lounging on the sand or playing in the waves. As a small community, Hô Côc has a limited selection of resorts, restaurants, and shops.
Another small beachside resort is Long Hài, which is locally known for its temples, like Dinh Cô and Mô Cô. These places of worship are common sites for religious pilgrimages, but they have also garnered the attention of international travelers too. Uniquely, Long Hài has sizeable hills so tourists can have fun at the beach or take a hike to enjoy the views.
Xuyên Môc is a mostly unknown district in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province, but what makes it a tourist destination are the hot springs. A small resort, the Bình Châu- Phuóc Buu hot springs are ideal for travelers looking to indulge in a little TLC. Plans for further development of the area are underway, so travelers should make their plans before Xuyên Môc becomes overcrowded.
Dominated by beaches and islands, the majority of activities in Bà Ría-Vung Tàu are sand or water-based. Tourists head to the province to lose themselves in the tropical paradise, however, not all attractions are beach-based. Visitors can also visit sites that honor the local maritime culture or memorialize the country’s wartime history.
Some of the best main attractions in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province include the Vung Tàu Museum of Ancient Weapons, the Bình Châu Hot Springs, the Vung Tau Christ Statue, Con Dao Prison, and the endless array of beaches.
Museum of Ancient Weapons
Tourists in Vung Tàu are mesmerized by the beaches, but they should take a chance and head indoors too. The Museum of Ancient Weapons is a must-see as it houses more than 3000 ancient artifacts from countries all around the globe. Established by Englishman Richard Tay, the collection is truly impressive as its permanent exhibits feature swords, guns, armor, and uniforms.
Bình Châu Hot Springs
Consisting of more than 70 pools, the Bình Châu Hot Springs are nature’s version of a spa. The water at the springs is filled with minerals and a few pools have even formed thick layers of naturally therapeutic mud. Eco-friendly and sustainable, visitors won’t have to feel guilty as they spend the day hopping from pool to pool.
Con Dao Prison
A solemn but important attraction in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province is the Con Dao Prison. Holding thousands of prisoners throughout the centuries, the prison features the main block, multiple small camps, and a few graveyards. Now a museum, guests can tour the camps, graves, and infamous tiger cells as they learn more about Vietnam’s history.
There’s no hiding that many of the main attractions in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province are its white-sand beaches. From Vung Tàu to Hô Côc and the Con Dao Islands, there are dozens upon dozens of beaches that are open to the public. While some beaches are privately owned by mega-resorts, visitors don’t have to worry about paying to enjoy some time in the sand.
There is always going to be a free place to sunbathe and swim. Popular beaches in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province are Dam Trau, Ong Dung, Front, Back, Pineapple, and Ho Tram Beach.
While there are many national and local festivals in the Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province throughout the year, the streets really come to life during the Sea Festival. Held during late August or early September, the Sea Festival pays tribute to the province’s maritime culture while also thanking the sea for making the people prosperous.
Celebrations during the Sea Festival include large exhibitions like carnivals, workshops, performances, parades, and elaborate ceremonies. Entirely unique to the province, the Sea Festival is celebrated all along the coast in towns like Vung Tàu, Long Hài, Hô Côc, and Dam Trau.
Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province’s far southern location makes it a hotspot destination throughout the year because of the mild climate. While the area does experience a monsoon season, the rainfall doesn’t always stop tourists from hitting the resorts and beaches. The monsoon season starts in May and lasts until October.
The Bà Ría-Vung Tàu Province checks off everything on a travelers wanderlust list. With amazing resorts, beautiful beaches, and endless entertainment, it is hard not to love this idyllic paradise. A hit amongst the locals and foreigners, the popularity of the province only continues to grow.
In just a few short years, Bà Ría-Vung Tàu may very well take the crown as Vietnam’s best resort destination.
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